I write this today for the person who thinks they’re alone. For the person wondering if anyone is going through what she is going through.
I write this today to speak of failure. To speak of change and growth and strength and survival.
I write this today because life breaks all of us. But some people grow stronger at the broken places.
Two months ago my husband came to me and told me he was not in love with me anymore. A shock for sure. Or more of an awakening? I was shocked to hear that he did not love me, but I think my soul and heart had known for a while. At first, I didn’t feel out of love with him. At first my instinct was to thank him for telling me, to preserve whatever I could of his opinion of me. I know from experience that acting out or begging someone to stay only pushes them further and further from you. In the past, I was the one leaving.
I woke the next morning and hoped it was a dream. I hoped through the night, because of how civilly I had reacted, that he was once again in love with me.
He was not. He was relieved to have told me. He was done. He wanted to try couples counseling but only for our son.
I had been asking to go to counseling for months. I knew something was wrong. Each of our daily fights ended in me wanting to leave. As I sat with my own heart and thoughts for the first time, I realized I no longer wanted this either. At least, not the version of this we had become.
I see my husband the way I see all people, as a human. We are family after all, bonded forever by our sweet son. I respect many things about him, and whatever our differences and hurts and wrongs and harms, I can always work to see those respected things.
His opposition has held a mirror up to me and made me dull some of my heightened, sharp edges. I no longer cry myself to sleep at night because of anxiety, depression and heart ache for our world. I no longer need a man to tell me I’m pretty. I no longer need a man to use my body for his own satisfaction to feel loved. I worked on myself in the comfortable pain and darkness of our relationship. When he became hardened or averse to me, I worked on myself.
In the past, I did whatever it took to be accepted. I changed the way I acted, dressed, looked and spoke in order to find love. I got very good at playing that part. In fact, I got so good at that part- I convinced myself it was what I wanted. The world wanted me to be a good mom and a good wife- so I became them.
Here’s the thing about playing a part- you end up leading two lives. The one that is outward facing. The one that makes the world comfortable and accepting. The other secret life is quiet. In the quiet of my heart, I dreamed my big dreams. I knew my talents, knew that I wanted more from this life than to be someone’s wife. Knew that I was made for more.
This is not to say that being a wife and a mama is not a beautiful path, it is the most beautiful calling for some. But when it is not yours, or not your only one, trying to fit yourself into that mold can hurt. And trying to live as someone else can lead to darkness. Talents and skills and dreams and wishes and hopes are like any other living thing – they can’t grow in the dark (Rachel Hollis).
So I’m stepping out of the dark. Away from the heavy burden of a partner that does not love me, not the real me, and I’m stepping into the sun.
I almost didn’t. I almost stayed in that dark, lonely place. I tried to forget all my dreams and plans. Tried to mold myself into the woman he wanted. But in the end it made us both sad and contemptuous. Each blaming the other for how bad it felt to try to fold ourselves into the partner the other wanted.
We did one thing right, however. We created Miles. And for him, I will be forever grateful. My beautiful son.
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. That’s what everyone tells you to want. But I think a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life (Liz Gilbert). In this way, my husband and I were soulmates.
Not life partners, nor meant for each other, but we were mirrors held up to each other and through that, we grew.
I don’t regret one bit of this. I am only grateful. Grateful for Miles, grateful for our wedding and marriage. Grateful for our mutual trust and understanding that we will be exceptional co-parents to Miles for as long as we live. Grateful that I know during this next year of separation that I will not seek partnership, I will only seek myself.
We will be forever tied, forever respecting one another as we raise our boy. We will be family forever, friends with a common goal. The expression ‘conscious uncoupling‘ has become synonymous with a divorce where both partners accept that they each played a role in the breakup and, in particular, are looking to co-parent in a functional and healthy way in the future. Into this new world we travel.
I am not saying that any of this has been easy. That finding out the person I chose for life is no longer choosing me. I’m not saying that there were not nights of weeping or that I don’t still re-enter the grief cycle.
What I am saying is that we can do hard things. That perfect, pretty plan we have worked out in our heads might not be what we’re meant for after all. That we are made for more.
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority.”
For the past year or so, I have been pretty terrible at self care. The moment I had Miles, I lost myself to the role of mama. Diving in whole heartedly, head first, eyes closed- drowning. Self care went out the window the day that little man came into this world, and oh boy has it caught up with me.
I have always been a huge proponent of self care. Talking about it, telling my friends and family to do it, but never really doing it myself. The occasional bath or book, sure, but not daily routines to care for myself. In fact, my daily routines were based on deprivation and guilt.
At my worst, I would avoid getting myself food and water just so Miles wouldn’t have to be inconvenienced for even a moment. “No, no- I can’t stop to get a snack now, Miles needs me.” What Miles really needs is a happy, healthy mama that cares for herself. A mama so full of love and joy (and food and water) that she can’t help spilling out that goodness to the people around her.
Mama guilt is heavy. Heavy, and mean, and ultimately pointless. Sacrifice of the self does nothing to help others. What is left after self-deprivation and unnecessary sacrifice is mean and tired and hungry and sad and empty. Never to Miles, but to my people- to myself.
I have just started to give myself the love and care that I regularly give to others, and I have started to give the world the best of me- not just what’s left after work and being a mama.
Life will always have challenges. It will never be perfect. We can’t wait for the world to get better, for the perfect job, for more money, more time, a different life stage, or a different baby stage. All we have is today. And each day we wake up healthy is the biggest gift. Physical and mental health is everything, as long as I have it and Miles has it? I have enough to have a beautiful day.
Below are the things I have started doing daily to finally start caring for myself. I want to give the best me, not just what’s left. I hope you can find something in this list that speaks to you.
1. The Five Minute Journal. This simple, daily journal is like a toothbrush for your mind. The prompts encourage you to feel gratitude and positivity every morning and every evening. Since starting this practice, my entire mindset has shifted. No longer do I wake up thinking about how exhausted and drained I am, instead, I wake up grateful to be alive! Grateful for my warm bed, a delicious cup of coffee, my health and the health of my baby. I then close each evening reflecting on 3 beautiful things that happened that day and how I’m going to make tomorrow even better. No matter how crappy your day, there is always beauty to be found. You do not have to buy this journal to start this daily practice, click here for a video on the questions this journal contains and how to get started.
2. Meditation. I have known about the concept of meditation since birth. I was born in a Hindu ashram in Wawayanda, NY and grew up meditating with other little ones. Watching my mama chant and meditate daily. But just because you know about a concept, doesn’t mean you practice it. I am a bit notorious for taking in information. I am a voracious learner and questioner. I love to take in information at an intense pace. I love podcasts and books and personal growth and NPR- Learning is my super power. But the thing is, taking in new information without ever practicing, applying or mastering it is ultimately useless. You have to be willing to put in the day to day work of these things to see any result. I am finally focusing, and slowing down enough to master something before moving on to the next thing. I can still get excited and take in new information, but I can’t lose my daily focus in the process. I have been using the calm app daily to meditate and soothe my heart and mind. I have been going though one of the toughest things I have ever experienced recently. A huge life upset that was a result of lack of self care, and so many other things. As a result, around 3PM each day I feel myself getting sad, lonely and anxious. The moment I start to feel this way, I know it’s time to meditate. I take just 10 minutes for myself, in a quiet dark room, to meditate. Personally, I love the calm app because it has topics I can focus on, my favorite right now? Forgiveness. Forgiveness of others, and self. If you find yourself with daily highs and lows, anxiety or depression- try daily meditation. Just 5-10 minutes during your day to care for your lovely self- then repeat.
3. Outlander. My sister has been begging me to watch this show for about a year and I finally took the time to start it. To do something completely mindless and just for me. I love it so much I can’t stand it, I want to go to Scotland and live in the highlands and wear a kilt (or see the lovely male lead in a kilt-ha!). Your indulgence certainly doesn’t have to be the show Outlander, but find something lovely and freeing and mindless to completely lose yourself in- and don’t feel guilty for doing it, not even for a moment.
That’s it for now, three things I have put into practice to care for myself. Rest and self care are so important. Take it from someone who didn’t do it for so long that things broke. Don’t blame yourself or others for not doing it, just start taking the time for yourself. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow.
An empty lantern provides no light.
P.S. I recognize that I live a privileged life, and if you have an electronic device and time to read this blog post, you probably do too. I acknowledge the privilege of self care, and I am going to take full advantage of this gift that I am so very grateful for.
P.P.S. You may have noticed the title of my blog has changed! BonnieRaeMoore.com
Style- what an interesting word. Society would have you believe that you either have style, or you don’t. We’re quick to claim expertise in this area and to judge other’s fashion accordingly.
Like most things in our culture, I disagree. I believe that everyone (yes everyone, even your denim clad, new balance wearing dad) has a true, authentic style
Since posting about my 20 item winter, capsule wardrobe I have received many messages saying something like, “This is so inspiring! I don’t know how I will ever get here.”
First, let me acknowledge that it has taken me three years to get to this point. Three years of capsules, life change, mistakes, and growth to land here. When I see that so many people would like to be at this point, I can only pass along what I have experienced in these past three years in the hopes that you will not have to repeat my mistakes. I also have tips for how you can repeat my successes.
Small changes, over time, create big change.
Take time to define your true, authentic style.Nothing will protect you from emotional purchases, fast fashion, trends and marketing better than defining your true style. I hear from many readers that they do not know what their true style is, nor do they know how to find it.
I would argue that you do not need to develop or create your style, you simply need to uncover (or rediscover) it. There is a core being within you that knows what you want, the tricky thing is listening to her. It’s hard to hear your inner voice and self over the noise of the world. Over the ads and marketing, the opinions of other people, the pressures of the world to conform and fit in.
Set aside all of that for the time being. Sit with yourself in a quiet, private place and ask yourself this question: who am I when all else falls away? Without the expectations of others or the world around me (even the people I love most) what do I love?
For me, this brought up who I looked up to as a little girl. Not who was popular or who the world told me to look like, but who I have always loved and wanted to be. For me it’s Emily Dickinson, Audrey Hepburn, and Ms. Honey from Matilda. This question is less about the clothing that you love and more about what you are naturally drawn to.
I don’t want to dress like Emily Dickinson, I’m drawn to her simplicity. Her love of white, simple cotton fabrics, nature and home. I don’t want to dress like Ms. Honey as much as I am drawn to her strength, kindness, and her beautiful stone cottage surrounded by wild flowers.
Who and what are you drawn to? What people, feelings and essences make you fill up with joy? What do they represent for you?
Now that you have your inspiration and know what you are naturally drawn to, gather it in one place. My personal favorite is Pinterest. Create a board of the things that inspire you. People, quotes, places- pull it all together. Try not to question what you’re drawn to – trust your gut.
The brainstorming quietly on your own before this step is essential. We can appreciate something’s beauty without it aligning with our own authentic core style. Click here for my “Style” Pinterest board if you want to see how what I’m drawn to looks when put down and brought together. Don’t like Pinterest? Just search images, people and quotes you love and gather them in a folder.
After you have your virtual vision board, see what emerges as you explore and collect what you’re drawn to. What patterns can you see? What fabrics, colors and images resonate with you and your core? For me, it’s classic blues and grays, feminine mixed with masculine, simple and chic. Try not to judge yourself as you uncover this core being and style, we limit ourselves by thinking we “could never pull something off” or that an item “isn’t age appropriate” or we think others will judge us.
As the lovely Rachel Hollis once said, “Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business.”
The final step? Gather all of your clothing and touch each item (yes Konmari style) and see if it aligns with your core being- with the inner self that has come through in your planning. This goes beyond joy sparking. An item can be beautiful and bring us joy, without it aligning with how we would like to dress. There are so many pieces I see that are beautiful in their own right that do not match my style.
As you sort, hang the items on their own, on a clothing display or in your closet. Hang them somewhere you can see your style emerge. It will become clear when an item is an obvious “no” as you go through more and more clothing. I kept a “maybe” pile and stored those items away for a month. If I could recall or yearned for them during the next 21 days I planned to keep them- at the end of this process I donated all of them.
I ended up with less than twenty items for this winter. You may end up with forty, or thirty seven, or 100. The number is not what’s important. It’s about the items being cohesive, seasonally appropriate and matching the core style you have already identified. If you are craving a number? I always find that less is more. The simpler, the better.
I strongly recommend not buying any new items as you go through this process. More items cloud our vision and ideal self. We all own so much already, try living with less and see how it feels. If there is an item you truly know you need, search for a Buy Me Once item and have very clear guidelines on what you need. For example, I bought one pair of vegan, brown chelsea boots from Matt & Nat and I wear them at least 4 days out of the week. They also fit multiple seasons and reasons. I knew exactly what I was looking for before I shopped for them.
Nothing will make you impervious to “fashion” marketers more than knowing who you are and what you truly need and want. As consumers, we have so much power to change the world just by what we buy. And ultimately? You are not a “consumer” you are a human being.
This life is short and weird and hard and crazy, don’t spend it worrying that you’ve worn the same top too often. Don’t not stomp around in combat boots because you think you have to wear flats or heels. I spent years not getting a haircut I was desperate for because I was convinced without long hair I wouldn’t be seen as beautiful.
Partners, friends, parents, kids, coworkers, strangers on the street – at the end of the day, their opinion has nothing to do with you. What matters is how you feel in the quiet, when all else falls away- when your heart is at rest and talking to you.
“Kiss your own fingertips
and hug your own curves.
You are made of waves and honey
and spicy peppers when it is necessary.
You are a goddess,
I hope you haven’t forgotten.”
Leave any questions you have below and I will get back to you. And for those wondering, “What about work clothes?” That’s next.
“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” Emily Dickinson
This past year I did something I am not proud to admit- I bought numerous items from fast fashion brands like Target, TJ Maxx, and Old Navy only to turn around and donate them a few weeks later.
I was feeling unsure about body changes after becoming a mama, a bold new hairstyle, unearthing child hood traumas, and leaving an unfulfilling job for a new, more challenging one. Often when we don’t feel quite ourselves, when we’re feeling low or unsure, that’s when we’re most susceptible to marketing, trends, and consumerism. There is an entire collective of brands and companies hoping you won’t feel good enough so they can convince you that what you’re missing is the thing they are selling.
When we’re at our best, confident and fulfilled, we don’t seek external happiness- we’ve already got it.
During 2018 I took a journey of self discovery and healing- I came out stronger, wiser and happier as a result. At the tail end of this year and this journey, a good friend recommended the book A Life Less Throwawayby Tara Button. I downloaded the audio book (because I’m a working mama and this is my current preferred way to digest new information) and I devoured it.
The book explores how our culture has lost the art of buying items for life. The world is trying to convince us to spend our way to happiness- instead we’re more cluttered, unfulfilled and stressed than ever and so is our planet. Tara Button founded a company called BuyMeOnce and through her book teaches how we can champion long lasting, sustainable products while simultaneously healing our hearts and lives.
A Life Less Throwaway is the most life changing book I’ve read since The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the book that jump started my minimalism and helped me heal after losing my dad in 2015). If you read one book this year, let it be A Life Less Throwaway.
In one portion of this book the author explores wardrobes and finding your true style. If you have a defined style, totally authentic to who you are, it will be impossible for brands to sell you something you don’t want. When you know yourself and your lifestyle well you know what belongs in your life, and what doesn’t.
I’ve had some version of a capsule wardrobe for nearly four years now but I’d never taken the time to define my authentic, timeless style. I’ll admit that I’ve spent 2018 getting to know myself so this was very much the right time to rediscover who I am at my core and how I want my clothing to reflect this. The universe sent this message of buying for life at just the right time.
I started with a Pinterest board. I deleted all of my previous “style” posts and boards and began fresh, blank, and new. I have always gravitated toward Audrey Hepburn and Parisian style. I was the first person in my high school to ever wear skinny jeans (humble brag) and I’ve wanted a short, Parisian pixie cut for as long as I can remember. As a little girl I loved Madeline, Matilda and Emily Dickinson (who was thought to only wear white)- I aspired to be classic and natural.
Throughout my youth the world told me to be different from who I truly wanted to be. It told me to have long hair and to look sexy. To wear Hollister and makeup and to be “desirable”. The world was wrong, is wrong. I know that now. It took me 27 years to come back to who I have always been. To rediscover the little girl that loved Audrey and Matilda and Emily.
Here you will see the style that I felt in my bones. An outward representation of who I am on the inside. After defining this for myself, I followed the KonMari method and took all of my clothing items out and put them in a pile. I touched each one and asked if it sparked joy, if it fit my true, authentic self I felt joy- if not I thanked it for teaching me something and let it go.
There were a few items over the next few weeks that I found didn’t quite fit so I let them go too. When all was said and done I was left with a less than twenty item winter capsule with about ten items in storage- and I’ve never felt more alive or more sure. Gone is the decision fatigue or the uncomfortable nature of wearing clothes that felt like a costume. In my current wardrobe, I have left what suits me, no one else- just me and my life.
My current winter wardrobe consists of: 4 long sleeve shirts, 2 sweaters, 1 t-shirt, 1 jean jacket, 1 winter coat, 2 pairs of blue jeans, 1 high waisted black pant, 1 cropped black jean with rips, 1 pair of “BuyMeOnce” boots, 1 pair of loafers, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 purse, 1 pair of Pixel eyewear, 1 necklace and 3 pairs of earrings.
Outside this capsule I have ten warmer weather items stored, a five item “professional” wardrobe for conferences, hiking boots, a ten item lounge capsule for relaxing and sleeping, one rain coat, and one warm coat for hiking and camping. That’s it, the only wearable items I own in this world- and I’ve never been happier.
In the future, as some of my current items wear out, I hope to replace them with similar style items that will last a lifetime- using the BuyMeOnce website as a guide.
If you’ve always wanted to start a capsule, find your style, or if you’re simply tired of consumerism and what it is doing to our world (and if you’re reading this blog I imagine you are) consider sitting down and rediscovering you.
“The world doesn’t have to like what you do. You have to like what you do.” Tara Button